Red Sox report for 1st season under Cora
- Cubs: Russell's 2nd chance 'conditional'
- Angels, Allen agree to 1-yr., $8.5M deal
- Cubs 3B Bryant healthy again
- Reds, Braves prospects receive drug bans
- OF Garcia can earn up to $6M with Rays
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) The first order of business this spring for new Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was getting to know his players as more than just players.
"You are human beings and if you only concentrate on baseball, it becomes a grind and it becomes a long season," Cora said. "You have to connect with them, learn about their families and learn about them off the field and that makes it a more fulfilling experience."
That communication has already started to loosen up a clubhouse that had become purely businesslike under former manager John Farrell.
"It's casual conversation and it's not always about baseball," Boston pitcher David Price said. "We have a good relationship already and I think that stems from talking more than just baseball."
Cora's positive clubhouse presence - plus a being dependable glove up the middle - that helped him stay in the big leagues for 14 years. A former third-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of the Miami in 1996, Cora batted .243 over 1,273 games for five different clubs. He had 35 career home runs, 140 doubles and 286 RBIs. Cora was the utility infielder for Boston during the 2007 championship season, in which he batted .246 in 83 games.
Cora served as bench coach last season for the Houston Astros under AJ Hinch. He says the lessons he learned as the Houston staff led the team to its first World Series title were helpful as he becomes a manager for the first time at age 42.
"I learn from the guys that I talk to, what kind of players they are, what gets them going and where they are at mentally," Cora said.
Cora will inherit a talented young roster and a rotation full of Cy Young potential that has failed to parlay American League East titles into pennants. He doesn't expect the new approach to dealing with players to fully take hold right away but he is setting groundwork for better communication.
"As a player that I went through those processes and it's always let's see how he acts or see what they bring to the table," Cora said. "But I'm comfortable with the situation and comfortable with the group."
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
Updated February 13, 2018